Passenger group appeals shrinking seat petition denial

FlyersRights.org has appealed the US Federal Aviation Administration´s (FAA) denial of its rulemaking petition to halt further shrinkage of airline seats and legroom until minimum passenger space standards can be set, the organization said.

The appeal was filed in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia which has the power to review federal agency decisions.

FlyersRights.org called on the Federal Aviation Administration and Congress in 2015 to set minimum seat standards so 90 percent of passengers can fit without any additional charges. And for the 10 percent of passengers whose size makes economy standard seats impractical, airlines would be required to provide larger seats for a reasonable and proportional additional charge.

However, until the minimum seat standards can be set, a moratorium on further seat shrinkage is necessary. Without regulation, airlines have and will continue to aggressively reduce economy seat size. Some may reduce passenger space until most passengers above average size will be forced to pay extra.

Airbus recently unveiled a bench seat that would have four passengers across instead of the current three. Others are proposing bar stool or bicycle style seats, overhead seating, stand up seating and further shrinkage of the number of bathrooms and their sizes. Airlines are also shrinking seat padding, eliminating or reducing seat recline, virtually eliminating tray tables, and narrowing aisles.

In Congress, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Charles Schumer and Congressman Steve Cohen and several others have introduced legislation (HR 4490) demanding the Federal Aviation Administration regulate seat sizes and leg room on commercial airlines. However, the Senate and House in close votes have so far rejected these proposals.